Crisis Communications - Public Relations - Strategic Marketing

What Pepsi Needed to Prevent a Controversy

I write this even though it may curtail our crisis management practice. The latest controversy involving Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad shows once again the importance of having a devil’s advocate in an organization. The ad has been widely criticized in social media with allegations that it is tasteless and tried to capitalize on the Black Lives Matter movement. That certainly wasn’t Pepsi’s intent. The devil’s advocate is given the role of looking at the project, idea or ad in the worst possible light. What would a competitor, regulator or advocate say? Could someone be offended? Assigning one or more members of your team to the role of devil’s advocate or previewing the ad to a diverse audience empowered to provide honest feedback might have prevented this controversy. Creativity and consensus can be good things, but in today’s society where everyone is an instant critic, a devil’s advocate process is more important than ever.​